Tucson Airport Authority Breaks Ground on Largest Project in Airport's History

Oct. 16, 2020

Joined by elected leaders and government representatives from across Southern Arizona, the Tucson Airport Authority broke ground on Oct. 15 on the largest project in its 72-year history.

The Airfield Safety Enhancement Project (ASE) will transition the airfield at Tucson International Airport (TUS) into a new era of safety and provide redundancy with a second parallel runway that will serve the region for decades into the future.

“Our airfield is safe, however, FAA standards have changed and we need to modernize the airfield,” said TAA President & CEO Danette Bewley. “It has taken a long time to plan, conduct the necessary environmental study and design a project that brings the airfield up to the new FAA safety standards.”

Although there have been modifications over the years, the TUS airfield was designed almost 60 years ago.

More than a decade in the planning, environmental study and design, ASE is now ready to begin construction, which is expected to take at least five years with an estimated cost of $300 million. Construction will be divided into four different focus areas and will require precise coordination with the FAA, commercial and cargo airlines, the Air National Guard and general aviation users.

“This is a point to thank the many people who have been involved in the long process leading up to today, and celebrate this significant groundbreaking milestone,” said TAA VP of Planning and Engineering Mike Smejkal.

With social distancing guidelines in mind, attendance to the in-person event had to be limited. Most of the attendees joined via a live stream that was broadcasted Thursday morning. Speakers included Danette Bewley, TAA Board of Directors Vice Chair Bruce Dusenberry, FAA Western-Pacific Region Director Mark McClardy, Arizona Senator Martha McSally, Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry and Tucson Mayor Regina Romero.

“When there is a group of 40-50 stakeholders, who can collaborate and reach a mutually-beneficial outcome for the airport and the community, you know you have a successful project,” said Bewley. “The ASE Project positions TUS for the future, which benefits the region.”

As the certificated operator of TUS, the airport authority has been a catalyst for economic development and will continue to provide a sustainable airport system and constantly pursue initiatives that promote and grow business opportunities in Southern Arizona.

ASE Project highlights include:

  • Demolish existing general aviation runway; construct relocated full length commercial runway 
  • Construct center taxiway between existing and new parallel runway 
  • Construct outer taxiway; construct end-around taxiway 
  • Modify connectors throughout airfield 
  • Demolish Earth Covered Magazines (ECMs); construct replacement ECMs 
  • Install new Barrier Arrestor Cable, expand pavement for Air National Guard 
  • Conduct Sound Insulation Program (for select homes) 
  • Land Transactions (various)